Mixed feelings on NAFTA in Mexico

Most of the Industrial Park Queretaro’s labor force lives in the next-door neighborhood called la Estacada, less than a mile away. Workers can walk from their homes to their jobs. /Photo by Andrea Jaramillo/Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

By Andrea Jaramillo | Cronkite News

QUERETARO, Mexico – Mexico is facing something it never thought would happen: The possibility that NAFTA, the trade agreement that shaped the country’s economic policies over the last two decades, might disappear.

But just as some Mexican officials try to convince President Donald Trump that the North American Free Trade Agreement has been beneficial for both countries, Mexican critics of the treaty think it’s time for their government to take a hard look at its shortcomings.

“NAFTA has generated employment, has provided a lot of goods, trade and investment, that’s fine,” said Mexican economist Gerardo Esquivel. “But in terms of the final purpose of NAFTA, I think it has been very short to what it was supposed to be the goal of NAFTA, which was to promote convergence in the North American region.”

Related: Pinal-area congressional candidates support NAFTA

Moreover, Esquivel thinks NAFTA hasn’t met one of its key aims, which was to reduce the wage gap between Mexico and the United States.

When NAFTA passed in 1994, per capita income in the U.S. was 2.85 times larger than Mexico’s. Since then, the gap has actually gotten worse, with 2015 per capita income in the U.S. 3.19 times that of Mexico, according to the World Bank. More than half the country’s 127 million residents still live in poverty.

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